Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Florida and Michigan: voters are more important than petty squabbles

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Originally published on on Mon, 03/17/2008 – 11:48pm

The Florida Democratic Party has announced that there won’t be a do-over in the state’s primary. So the voters of the state of Florida aren’t being given an option to make their voices heard in who they think should be president. Well, at least, those who vote Democratic.

Those who voted Republican have their votes counted. Irony is sad.

Now, I have written about this debacle, placing the primary blame on the DNC. That really didn’t go over well. I’m not here to apologize or take back anything I said. But there is a deeper read into this story and perhaps, some consensus. Perhaps not.

I don’t think the current Michigan and Florida results should count. I’ve thought a lot about that, but since the DNC is willing to accept a second vote, the process should have happened.

I don’t blame Florida (or Michigan) for trying to move up. These are two truly crucial bellwether states for who would be the best nominee for president of the United States. The DNC had their reasons to pick South Carolina and Nevada. But Florida is a more balanced state than South Carolina in terms of demographics. While Nevada is a good Western choice, Michigan is also a more balanced state, and states with heavy industry are ignored early on in the process.

And I still think the DNC punishment was too harsh. I think the RNC punishment fit the rules violation. But let’s make this adamantly clear: a punishment was deserved.

And the state Democratic parties of Florida and Michigan knew the risks of what they did. I lay a significant chunk of the blame on them for not having contingency plans to make their voters’ voices were heard. The voters of the two states had no say in whether they would be penalized for the actions of the parties.

The state parties also knew that it might have to come down to a do-over. If you are going to go into a battle, whether your cause is justified or not, you have to be ready for all scenarios. I realize the Bush Administration didn’t do this for Iraq, and look what happened.

The state parties knew that if the DNC stuck to their guns, the citizenry of their states would be silenced. That was not an acceptable scenario.

All sides of this debacle (except the voters) have been more concerned about petty squabbles than democracy. The state Democratic parties feel an outrage over the process of who goes where. The DNC feel an outrage that a state would usurp their authority and would jump ahead. And neither side has been concerned about the voters.

If this were a typical primary race, where one candidate had a significant amount of delegates, the DNC and the state Democratic parties were very willing to not have the will of the voters of Florida and Michigan be considered in any form. They have been almost happy about it since, to them, their battle was more important than democracy. And regardless where you stand, nothing should overrule the right to vote.

Yes, I have heard from many people, replies to past articles, talk around the office, and even outside functions that the parties have a right to set up their own rules, and if you don’t like those rules, you can leave the party. All of that is true, but it misses the big picture.

In our classrooms, we talk about the treasured right to vote, and how important that is. But let’s look at the reality of the history of the United States. In the beginning, white, male, property owners have the right to vote. And yes, laws were passed giving males of color, and later women, the right to vote. But given poll taxes, felony lists, intimidation, and racism, among many factors, I wonder if we ever really had an election where everyone who could get to vote got to vote.

In Canada, there are two people who are prohibited from voting: the Governor General (representative to the Queen of England) and the person who runs Elections Canada. Every other citizen (of age) is considered eligible to be a voter. Sounds like a better system than what we have.

After the tragedies of the 2000 and 2004 elections, the last thing, the truly last thing anyone connected to the Democratic Party should do is deprive people of their right to vote. Especially in Florida.

This decision by the Florida Democratic Party to not have a do-over means that the Democrats will not win Florida in 2008. House representative races will suffer as a result. And if Michigan goes the same route, the Democrats’ chances in that state would be severely diminished.

As for the money, it should have been paid for by some culpable party, either the state parties, the DNC, or both, should pay for it. If the do-overs could be privately funded, so no one else will have to pay, that’s fine as well. But in any way, a re-vote should have happened.

All sides of this debacle (except the voters) have behaved like children, and perhaps that is insulting to most children. The residents of Florida should confront the state party (and if Michigan does the same thing, the state party should receive the same wrath) over this issue.

Because even though I still think the DNC has more blame in this than the state parties, the state parties did start the battle. They do deserve to be punished, and if necessary, if no one else will pay the cost, the state parties ultimately should dish out the money. If the state party paid for it, and confronted the DNC later over the money, that’s a fight for a different day.

Perhaps that isn’t ultimately fair, but punishments aren’t always fair. Democracy should be more important than money or petty squabbles. But this isn’t true in Florida.


Written by democracysoup

March 17, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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